Title: The Seven-Letter Solution
Email: blueberrysnail at yahoo dot com
Series: Star Trek, The Next Generation
Codes: D&T, D/m and D/La implied, exactly 1000 words (if that's called anything)
Betas: Julie and Kat
Archive: ASCEM and nice people who ask first :-)
Disclaimer: The entire Trek universe is property of Paramount and will not suffer much from the collective poking and prodding of our various imaginations. We mean our beloved characters no harm and think that quite frankly, they enjoy the variety ;-)
Summary: Data has a little chat with Counselor Troi about his love-life
Note: Title is an homage to Nick Meyer. Props to anyone who gets it, and it has nothing to do with Wrath of Khan.
THE SEVEN-LETTER SOLUTION
Deanna Troi looked up from the crossword puzzle in her psychological journal and jumped with surprise to see Data standing in the doorway of her office. "Oh, hello, Data! I didn't know you were there. Were you waiting long?" Bother, not being able to sense androids. She needed to get used to this, because Data visited frequently in his quest to better understand his human crewmates.
"One minute and nineteen seconds," Data said amiably, "unless you count the--"
Deanna shushed him with a motion of her hand. "That's okay, Data. Knock next time so I don't leave you waiting, okay?" She gave him a big smile and walked from behind her desk to chat with him.
"You looked intent on your work," Data explained.
"Thank you, Data. But I was just working on a puzzle." She picked up the crossword puzzle and asked him, "Data, do you know what 'Element used in twentieth-century batteries" might be?"
"How many squares were you allotted?"
"Seven," she said, counting.
"I believe 'lithium' is the correct answer."
"Hey! It fits. Thanks!"
"My pleasure, Counselor."
Deanna penciled in the word and then closed the journal. "Well, Data, what can I do for you?"
"Counselor, as you know, I have participated in intimate relationships on the Enterprise before," Data began. "One of these experiments pleased my partner at the time, and the other was not a success."
"You're referring to Lieutenants Yar and DeSora." Deanna nodded.
"That is correct," said Data. "Lieutenant Yar was satisfied with my performance when the Psi-2000 virus caused her to initiate sexual relations. But when I attempted to fulfill the requirements for a real romance, with Jenna, I believe I failed miserably."
"You tried, Data. At least you gave it a chance. And perhaps, someone with less emotional neediness might have worked out better for you?"
"I conjectured that might be the case."
"So what brings you into my office today? You're not here just to rehash old news." Deanna batted her eyelashes at him slyly.
"I am once again faced with the prospect of an intimate encounter," explained Data. "Ensign Gardner has expressed behavior during the past two weeks indicating to me that he would like to initiate a 'date'."
"A male this time." Deanna was merely repeating and nodding like hundreds of generations of shrinks before her.
"Yes. It might be useful to me from a scientific point of view, as a way of gathering more information about the human courtship ritual."
"It would help you experience a variety of perspective," Deanna agreed.
"And since I am not human and have no capacity for reproduction, or for arbitrary preference, his gender does not impede my function during sexual acts." Data was unblushingly blunt.
"You're lucky. Even today when the stigma is no longer very strong, many humans fight their natural inclinations merely out of social custom," said Deanna. "What about your prospective companion?"
"Ensign Gardner does not suffer from self-loathing," Data reassured her. "However, he may be expecting too much from me. I do not believe he is as emotionally demanding as Jenna, but he definitely expects to share a large portion of my time."
"He wants to see what that famous fully-functionality is all about." Deanna winked. "For a human that would be flattering."
"My foremost duty is to the ship," Data countered. "I cannot afford to spend that much time researching human sexuality."
"So you've come to me to ask me whether or not I think it worthwhile to start an affair."
"Yes, Counselor. Can you help me?"
"Well, Data, I think you have to ask yourself what you would get out of this relationship." Deanna crossed her arms and leaned back, her butt resting on the front of her desk.
"Increased understanding of human relationships, more specifically from the male-male perspective," Data answered.
"Do you get any satisfaction from Gardner as a person?"
"Not particularly. Since I have no emotion, my comfort level with an individual is based on familiarity, and with him I have none."
"Because he was never one of your close friends," Deanna volunteered. "He just started talking to you recently and immediately made his move."
Data looked surprised at her 'insight'. "That is correct! So you are suggesting that I continue my interest in an intimate relationship with a male, but with somebody I am better acquainted with?" Data asked.
"Yes, Data. I don't think you know Gardner well enough to play the role of a human's boyfriend to him," said Deanna.
"It would add too many variables to an already unstable experiment."
Deanna nodded. "You would be better off with someone who is already your close friend." She unwrapped a chocolate and popped it between her lips. "The best human romances are based on friendships."
"Yes, I had heard that. Perhaps Jenna and I were not close enough friends for our relationship to succeed."
"Counselor--do you think it would be advisable to ask Lieutenant Commander LaForge to accompany me in my studies?"
Deanna burst out laughing. "Data, that's a terrific idea! But please don't phrase it that way. That's not exactly romantic!"
"I shall have to access the computer's memory banks on homosexual romance," said Data. "I have already read much about some of the famous gay couples from human history. Alexander and Hephaistion, Oscar Wilde and Lord Douglas, Barber and Menotti , Captain Kirk and Ambassador Spock--"
"Data," Deanna interrupted gently.
He looked up at her with eager eyes.
"You know Geordi very well. He's your friend. You know how to be a good friend. And you know what kind of touch feels good on humans. Why don't you start there, and forget the encyclopedia research."
"Do you think that is wiser?"
"Thank you, Counselor! You have been a great help."
"My pleasure." She showed Data out of the room and shut the door. Back to the crosswords, and gloating over how the solution to Geordi's weekly angst-sessions had just fallen into her lap....}